When Climax Lawrence decided to take up professional football, it didn’t look like he would make it big, forget becoming one of Goa’s all-time greats. For two years he struggled to break into the first team at Salgaocar. But he never lost heart and it was only a matter of time before he not only made the cut but also carved a niche for himself. A striker to start with, Lawrence was turned into an enterprising midfielder. He was blessed with a vision like nobody else, stamina that was the envy of his teammates, the speed of a gazelle and the knack of scoring some wonderful goals too. His most endearing ability though was that he was a team-man to the core. Whether it was orchestrating play from the deep with precision, or falling behind to help the defence, the team always came first for this Navelim-born midfielder who captained India at the biggest tournament in recent memory, the Asian Cup 2011 in Doha where the continent’s best converged. Lawrence spent five memorable years at Salgaocar and as his career started looking up, he then fell for the glitz and glamour of the Kolkata maidan. He became an instant hit with the East Bengal fans and impressed during the one season he spent there. Armando Colaco however managed to convince him to return home and join Dempo in 2005-06, when the club became a magnet for Goa’s best players. Playing alongside the Brazilian Beto in the midfield, Lawrence orchestrated the proceedings with aplomb, and the duo became an unstoppable force that propelled Dempo to four NFL/I-League titles in six years, besides the Durand Cup and Super Cup. He was also an influential player for the national team after being called up by Stephen Constantine in 2002, who dubbed him the ‘Patrick Viera of India’. Since then, he was always the first choice central midfielder for a succession of coaches and ended up winning the 2007 and 2009 Nehru Cups, AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 and SAFF Cup in 2011. It’s a travesty of justice that despite being nominated five times, he was not considered for the Arjuna Award, the highest accolade for sports in India. “I would say that he was one of the greatest midfielders of our generation,” former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia said in his tribute when Lawrence quit the national team in 2012. The Sikkimese sniper as always, was spot on!